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THE FRENCH CONNECTION (1971)

NY cops Popeye Doyle and Buddy Russo are following their lead on the latest heroin deal, tailing two suspects, and their French "connection" in the process.  Surveying a local candy store, Popeye and Doyle await the moment to make the "big bust," but of course, train hijackings, car chases, death threats, and a good-guy/bad-guy showdown ensues!  

The cast includes: Gene Hackman, Fernando Rey, Roy Scheider, Tony LoBianco, and Marcel Bozzuffi.

#70 on the AFI Top 100. 1971's Best Picture.

Director William Friedkin's "The French Connection" is an exciting, jam packed cop action fest. Friedkin won the best directing award.

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Promotional Lines: "Doyle is bad news - but a good cop."

"A $32,000,000 chase turns into the American thriller of the year!"

Best Picture Oscar Winner / Best Picture Index

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The French Connection is a film that tells the story of tough guy New York cop Popeye Doyle (Hackman) and his partner, Buddy Russo , (Roy Scheider), as they attempt to bust an international heroin smuggling ring in New York, led by the suave, slippery Frenchman, Alain Chavnier who is the largest supplier of Heroin to America. They start their hunt by tailing the suspects in hope of keeping the trail warm, and hopefully catch the gang in the act, as they try to connect with the Mobsters in New York. To complicate things, Doyle and Russo must dodge snipers and potshots aimed at them as they get closer and closer to their goal, as they slowly uncover the plans of the bad guys.

This action-packed screenplay, by Ernest Tidyman, based on Robin Moore's reality-based novel, is considered by many to be "the mother of all gritty cop chase movies," done in a documentary-style, that's "full of guts, energy, and full of fury," showing the work of street cops. Tidyman was honored with an Academy award Oscar for his fine screenplay.

William Friedkin's inspired direction earned him the Best Director Oscar, as this film is one of his most successful efforts, as he helps create a realistic depiction of detective work, that ranges from endless footwork, disappointments, to wild chases and some successes.

Gene Hackman is fascinating as a tough, take no prisoners cop. Doyle's tough, rule breaking policeman blurs the line between cop and criminal. The fact that this unorthodox, brutal cop is somehow sympathetic is a testament to Hackman's great skills as an actor. Hackman once described his unhandsome face as a "mug with handles."

Roy Scheider is convincing as Popeye's down-to-earth sidekick who does admire Popeye's instincts, but tries to keep the big guy to use standard police investigation procedures, and is less than thrilled when Popeye has the tendency to use unorthodox methods to get the results he is seeking.

Fernando Rey shines as a slick, foreign drug smuggler, Alain Chavnier, who plays a cat and mouse game with his pursuers. His sleek, elegant manner offers great contrast to Hackman's rude and crude behavior.

My favorite scene involves the film's famous car chase. As a drug smuggler races by above on an elevated train, Hackman speeds along in a car on the street below. This is one of the all time great car chases, matching "Bullitt" for intensity.

Overall the grainy look of the photography and stark locations add a lot to the "realism" of this film.

If you liked THE FRENCH CONNECTION you may enjoy DIRTY HARRY, IN THE LINE OF FIRE, FRENCH CONNECTION 2, UNFORGIVEN, L.A. CONFIDENTIAL, THE SEVEN-UPS, and BULLITT.